The Receiver- All Burn

By Chris Dahlberg

Published on Thursday, July 16, 2015

Ohio’s The Receiver has been around for a little over a decade now, but their Kscope debut All Burn is the first time I’ve come across the progressive rock/dream pop band. That particular combination of musical styles made the duo instantly catch my attention, as they have the instant hook and soaring melodies of dream pop seamlessly merged with the more adventurous nuances of prog. Combine that with crystal clear production values and material that’s capable of holding your attention for the entire 43 minute run time, and you have an album worth paying attention to.

What drew me to The Receiver is how well they are able to almost completely blur the line between dream pop and prog. You’ll sometimes see groups dabble into a little bit of both genres while firmly remaining rooted in one of the two, but the instrumental work on All Burn never fully jumps over to either side. But no matter where this duo chooses to go, the synth and keyboard work drives everything forward and provide plenty of twists and turns for the listeners to discover. Sometimes the synths completely fill the sound, providing neo-prog style melodies that encourage you to explore further and find all of the depth that lies beneath the surface. Other moments find The Receiver fully mellowing out, as tracks such as “April Blades” are driven by soft yet seductive bass lines and keyboard melodies that suck you right in and put you in a very calm state of mind. “Dark Matter” even has a very Pink Floyd vibe to it, with a similar transition from minimalistic instrumentation to a much fuller sound that completely opens things up. There’s a perfect balance between the band’s desire to lull the listener into a trance and a more exploratory approach that encourages one’s full attention to discover all of the additional nuances, and each of the eleven songs has something a little different to keep things feeling fresh. All Burn also boasts a very full production that comes off as highly polished and makes it easy for the dreamy melodies to reach their peak level, and considering that this effort is self-produced that’s an impressive accomplishment.

Music of this type really has to have a strong vocal performance as otherwise it can distract from the instrumentation, and this is another area that The Receiver absolutely nails. Casey Cooper has one of those voices that hover over the material with an airier quality, perfectly blending in with the melodies and adding to their hooks. But instead of simply sticking with a mellower tone for the entire record, as the bass and keyboards start to pick up steam in each track Cooper’s voice follows suit and reaches soaring levels that have a considerable amount of staying power. During many of these sections drummer Jesse Cooper chimes in with some backing vocals, and there are some harmonized moments that I continue to find myself returning to on repeat listens. The Receiver recorded this album in a way that puts the singing front and center, but the performance justifies it.

All Burn is a very enjoyable release that’s likely to appeal to a fairly wide audience outside of the usual prog rock crowd. There are plenty of immediate pop hooks from both the instrumentals and vocals that should win The Receiver some broader appeal, but there is still a good deal of substance and adventurous ideas that should fit more prog-like tastes. It’s a solid listen from beginning to end, and is one of those albums that I’ve found myself reaching for regularly over the past few weeks. Kscope’s continued to build an impressive roster of artists, and The Receiver is another one worthy of their support.

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